Branch delegates did not get into the debates this year but both Susan Kennedy, Asst Branch Secretary, there representing the Local Government Service Group Executive; and Kathleen Kennedy, Branch Equalities Officer, representing National Disabled Members were at the podium.
Key role for branches in tackling stress
Scotland’s Kathleen Kennedy, supporting the motion on behalf of Disabled Members, spoke of her own experience in the workplace. She called for branches to get more involved in providing support, training and guidance to tackle stress at work.
There must be support for members living with mental ill health
Moving the motion on behalf of the National Disabled Members Kathleen Kennedy told delegates that one in four people experience mental ill health at one stage in their lives and yet mental health is still a taboo subject.
“There is still a lot of prejudice and lack of understanding around mental health, which means that many people don’t feel comfortable disclosing their mental ill health.
“It is vital that anyone with mental ill health is able to get the support they need, without fear of judgement or discrimination, and that mental health is treated equally with physical health.”
Scotland’s Susan Kennedy, speaking for the Local Government Service Group supported the need for UNISON to provide dedicated Mental Health Champions to support our members, activists and delegates at conference.
Susan said, “This week at both Local Government and National Delegate conferences we have all witnessed the impact of government cuts. Cuts which bear relation to increased workplace stress and mental health issues.”
Terminally ill workers must have legal protections
Scotland’s Susan Kennedy, speaking on behalf of the Local Government Service Group Executive told delegates that UNISON supports the TUC’s ‘Dying to work’ campaign and the call for all of us to promote and campaign to force the employers to sign up to the ‘Dying to Work Charter’.
“The choice to remain in work or not should sit with the individual…NOT with the employer,” said Susan, condemning employers who increasingly and unfairly force our members with terminal illnesses out of a job through their capability policies.
Every UNISON branch elects a delegation to attend annual conference and to vote on behalf of their local branch members. Scotland has about 200 delegates. This branch has three. Two must be women and one of these must be a low paid woman, to reflect the make-up of the branch.
Branch Committee voted this year's delegation to Conference in Brighton as:
UNISON Scotland Briefing Team
Service Group Executive (SGE)
National Disabled Members Committee
UNISON's annual National Delegate Conference is the union's ruling body. Every year delegates from all over the country take part in debates to choose our campaigning priorities and policies.
Conference is chaired by the UNISON National President, or by one of the Vice-Presidents. This year there are over 100 motions on the conference agenda again and a number of proposed amendments to the UNISON rules. Only a proportion of motions will actually be debated at Conference because there is not time to hear them all. Motions are therefore "prioritised".
Branch motions and amendments
Motions are passed by a straight majority of the conference delegates on a hand vote. If it is close, conference delegates or the chair of conference can call for a card vote. The number of card votes per delegation is based on the number of members in the branch.
Amendments to rule need to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the voting delegates. Card votes can also be called for (and often are) in rule changes. Thursday afternoon is traditionally the time that the rule changes are debated. Many delegates find this session really boring, but in recent years it has produced some of the best debates, and often the funniest speeches.
As delegates we will vote on the motions and the rule changes in line with branch policy, where we have that in place and we can speak for or against any of the motions, amendments and rule changes, again in line with Branch policy, if we have a position.